News and analysis
August 18, 2014

Videos and Lessons From $16-Million "Ice-Bucket" Fundraising Campaign


Bill Gates is among the big-name participants in the "ice-bucket challenge."

Never have so many famous chattering teeth generated so much, well, chatter.

The “ice-bucket challenge,” a fundraising campaign by the ALS Association, is becoming nearly ubiquitous across social media, fueled by videos made by prominent individuals who command large audiences on Twitter and other sites.

Participants are asked to donate $100 to the nonprofit, which is dedicated to fighting ALS—also called Lou Gehrig’s disease—or douse themselves with ice water while prodding friends to do the same through sites like Facebook and YouTube. Many people are choosing to do both: donate and take the ice bath.

Since July 29, the nonprofit has raised $15.6-million and attracted 307,598 new donors, it said Monday. During the same period last year, it brought in $1.8-million.

But the ice-bucket challenge has attracted some criticism of what some say is a "revisionist history" of its origins with former college baseball starter Pete Frates. More have embraced it as a creative, savvy way to draw attention to a tough-to-talk-about disease. The campaign is already being dissected as a case study for other organizations trying to move the fundraising dial.

Everyone from pop stars to politicians are taking part. President Obama was challenged to participate by musician Justin Bieber and others, although no response from the White House has surfaced yet.

Here is a roundup of a few of our favorites from philanthropy and others based on views, technique, and name-dropping.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates

Hockey player Paul Bissonnette

Musician Taylor Swift

Send an e-mail to Avi Wolfman-Arent and Megan O'Neil.